Christ is a King, and kings rule their kingdoms with laws. One of the most important laws in Christ's Kingdom is the law of humility. This law says that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). In other words, greatness in his Kingdom comes not from outdoing other people, outperforming them, and outdistancing them. Greatness in Christ’s eyes comes from serving other people, from elevating them, helping them advance, and keeping oneself in the background. In his very first sermon, Jesus had taught the same law with different words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:2). It’s the same law stated so directly in today’s First Reading: “Conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved ... Humble yourself... and you will find favor with God” (Sirach 3:17-18). This law goes directly against everything this fallen world teaches us. It’s extremely hard for us to swallow, which is why Jesus explained it by using this unambiguous parable. But even the parable wasn’t enough. This law is so fundamental, that Jesus also taught it to us by living it out in an extreme way: through his passion and death. Jesus, the Lord of heaven, came to earth and purposefully took the lowest place possible – that of a condemned criminal. He freely took on the most humiliating form of death – crucifixion. He allowed himself to be stripped of every honor. He allowed his reputation to be dragged through the mud by the lies and corruption of his enemies; and yet, because he humbled himself so thoroughly, he has been glorified so magnificently. Such is the law of his Kingdom.
Welcome back to school this week to our St. John’s Preschool children, and to our Faith Formation students starting next weekend! All are invited to join us as we kick off our September Series at all Masses next weekend, entitled Breathing Room. Also, thank you very much to Msgr. Al LoPinto for helping out at St. John’s, as I was able to have some much-needed time away with family. Happy Labor Day!